One of the most iconic pastimes in American history, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, will reportedly be shutting down in full this May 2017.
According to the BBC, the traveling circus known as "The Greatest Show on Earth" has cited a stark decline in ticket sales and a high cost of operation as reasons for the close.
The famed Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has been in operation for 146 years, the second longest-running circus in American history behind the Royal Hanneford Circus. Since the late 1960s, the Ringling Bros. circus has been owned by Feld Entertainment.
The CEO of the family-operated company, Kenneth Feld, gave a statement regarding the decision to close. "After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey will hold its final performances in May," Feld said. "Ringling Bros. will always be part of Feld Entertainment, and its spirit will live on in every production and project we do."
However, not everyone is saddened by the news that the historic production will be shut down, as many animal rights groups like PETA are regarding the closure as a victory for circus animals.
PETA also released a statement, claiming that the closure "heralds the end of what has been the saddest show on earth for wild animals, and asks all other animal circuses to follow suit, as this is a sign of changing times."
After more than 30 years of legal battles with several animal rights groups, the circus ended their use of elephants in the shows in May of 2016. Feld also cited this as a key reason behind the drop in attendance over the past year.
Although the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus is nearing its final curtain, the "Greatest Show on Earth" will be holding their last string of traveling shows this spring. The farewell tour will conclude at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., on May 21, 2017.